The project will involve the study of unnatural nucleic acids containing metals that have recently been developed in the School of Chemistry at the University of Birmingham.
These vary from modified nucleic acids, in which DNA is tagged with redox-active metal complexes, to completely artificial nucleic acids, in which the sugar-
these structures contain iron atoms that run along the nucleic acid backbone, giving them redox-activity as a result of the reversible Fe(II)-Fe(III) redox couple.
This project will focus on developing a fuller understanding of the properties of these new redox-active oligomers and their application in the field of biological nanotechnology.
As potential forms of xeno nucleic acids (XNA), they fall within the domain of synthetic biology and the drive to fabricate new unnatural structures that can mimic or even enhance the properties of natural systems.
Directions for study will include examining enzyme activity (for example with helicases or polymerases), molecular modelling, electrochemistry and tagging to other biological components (e.
g. bacteriophages) for spectroscopic and electrochemical sensing applications.
One exciting prospect will be to examine whether these nucleic acids can be copied through their metal modification site and amplified in the PCR reaction.
Similar approaches have already been used for other nucleic acids with backbone modifications that do not contain metals.
More details can be found in the following link : https : / / warwick.ac.uk / fac / cross fac / mibtp / pgstudy / phd opportunities / molecularandmetabolicengineering2019 / metalodifieddna
The student will ideally have a first degree in a chemistry or biochemistry-related discipline and have an interest or experience in areas related to one or more of the following topics : synthetic chemistry, biochemistry, molecular or chemical biology, synthetic biology, supramolecular chemistry.
The project is part of the BBSRC MIBTP programme, involving the Universities of Warwick, Birmingham and Leicester.
More details on this fully funded 4-year PhD programme, can be found here : https : / / warwick.ac.uk / fac / cross fac / mibtp / about mibtp /
More details on eligibility requirements may be found here : https : / / warwick.ac.uk / fac / cross fac / mibtp / pgstudy / phd opportunities / application / #Eligibility